The Physically Challenged
by Jeffrey Dobkin
So I’m sitting in my car waiting for the accident to happen…
Ladies and Gentlemen let’s get ready to crummmmbulllll:
In this corner of the parking lot, one of the world’s largest women, already sweaty, in her giant SUV and talking on her cell phone. Their combined weight, 7425 lbs. Folks, it looks like she’ll be our winner for today: she’s just way too busy to put her phone down for a nanosecond and turn around, while backing out of her parking space.
And in the other corner, in her ‘98 Buick Regal, one of the world’s oldest woman, just slightly younger than dirt itself. Wha? Whasat? Oh look – she’s proudly displaying a handicapped placard hanging on her rearview mirror. Folks, she’s practically boasting “I can drive like an idiot, I have the sign that permits me to do it!” And she’s creeping towards the SUV at the unnerving pace of a snail.
Both contestants are edging towards each other and the inevitable bending of metal and shattering glass; and each seems oblivious to the approaching other. It’s a battle of the minds: which one will show up first… if at all?
I sit patiently in a neutral corner, anxiously awaiting for one or the other to hit the accelerator and oh, the painful sound of metal on metal, er… plastic on plastic — as long as it isn’t mine… and no one gets hurt. Even I have my limits. Heck, if I didn’t have limits how would I know when I’m over them.
Ironic, the old woman’s driving was authorized not by the Department of Transportation, but by her doctor: who declared her unable to walk more than 30 feet to a store, but allows her to try to control a 5,000 pound vehicle at 65 MPH.
Now maybe I’m wrong here (I was wrong once in the summer of ‘03) but do I really want a person who can’t walk 30 feet through a parking lot driving right up close and personal next to me on the freeway… at 65 MPH in her ‘98 Buick? No… not really.
Heck, last time I drove a Buick, sober even, even I had trouble keeping it in a single lane. I didn’t as much drive it as point it in a general direction and correct it as it floated from one lane to the other at every bump in the road.
Well I guess there’s some good news here: the self-inflicted speed limit of 45 MPH on the freeway by most of the old folks, slowing the left lane so others don’t go too fast, keeps us all in check. Like me: I confess I’m always ten over. OK, let’s go off the record here for a moment… twenty over. Oh yea, thank goodness for the old folks.
Hey, isn’t that speed limit sign just really a “suggested” limit? If they really wanted me to go that slow why’d they let me buy a car with 425 hp, 6 speeds and 9” wide tires?
If the posted speed was anything but just a simple recommendation, seriously, they’d put a restrictor plate on my carburetor – like the one all NASCAR cars have. Yea, and it hasn’t been any fun watching races since they got them, either.
But let’s get real: speed limit signs were designed in the 1940s – when cars weighed 8,000 pounds and took a full city block to stop from 40 mph. Today, I can pass my favorite ice cream store at 60 and if there’s no line at the counter I can stop by the time I need to turn into their driveway.
Meanwhile, back in the parking lot (remember the parking lot) I laugh as both women – oblivious in their own little worlds – inch their way towards each other. Funny, I always thought the blind spot was towards the rear of the car. I guess now it’s right behind a cell phone or that giant handicapped placard.
I digress. In 50 states it’s illegal to have anything dangle from your rear view mirror because it’s dangerous. But the 6” x 8” H/C sign, well that’s OK. The EZ Pass is OK, too, to have right there: stuck in the middle of your windshield. Go figure.
From the safety of my car parked in a neutral corner I watch and wonder: what it is that makes old people lean forward as they drive? The older they get, the closer to the wheel they sit, until finally – they’re right-up snug against the steering wheel. Is their vision that much better from up there 8 inches closer to the front of the car? Is it better since they’re nearer to the road? Do they need that extra time to see things sooner than people who lean back against the headrest?
Sorry. It’s so easy to pick on old people. And if they could only read this small print they’d know I’m picking on them. Ha! Ha ha ha. Still, they’re too old to do anything about it. Ack! Ack ack ack ack. C’mon grammy chase me, chase me! Go on, hit me with that walker, lemme see what you got.
Well, I can see you shaking your head saying how I’m over the line this time and you’re right. I’m sorry. My apology to all of you old folks… you know who you are… those of you who got that handicap sticker simply because… you’re old. What? You thought no one new? Yea – exactly what’s wrong with you? Oldness? What medical condition is that? Yea – who’s over the line now?
Hey, I ain’t no spring chicken. Yes, I know, it hurts… I’ve got a bum knee too… and, and it hurts when I walk, too. You don’t hear me whining about it do you?
Frankly, I’d have to have one leg in the grave – and the other in the trunk – before I’d even think about putting a handicapped plate on my vehicle. Even then, it’s a maybe. And besides being old and cranky, what exactly is wrong with you that you can’t walk that extra 25 feet into that restaurant? That bad, huh? Shall we seat you right next to the bathroom, just in case? I think that would be a good spot for you – hey, less to walk, just in case, knowhatI’msayin? We’ll put a h/c sign on that table for you, OK?
So, for the 90% of the people with handicap signs hanging from their rear view mirrors who got them simply because they’re older – don’t you feel just a little embarrassed that you’re taking all the “good” parking spots from the real H/C people? You know, the spots the government is saving for the real handicapped people… just in case one might possibly want to show up and needs to park within 10 feet of the door?
And for the few, the proud, the one’s who only put up the placard on their rearview mirror when they need a good parking space and there are no other parking spaces close enough – or just when it’s raining… well I have a special wave for you – don’t worry, I’ll wave ALL my fingers at you next time. Quite frankly, you’re the worst offenders. You know that table next to the bathroom I was saving for you. Yours is in the bathroom. I have a nice seat for you in there. Enjoy dinner, shithead.
Ten years ago – before all the H/C parking spaces suddenly appeared, what did the handicapped people do then? I guess they simply managed, just like the rest of us. But lemme ask you: what did they do to buy that piece of legislation to get every fucking great spot right next to the entrance? And reserve it even if they’re not there, AND… and keep it reserved so no one else can park in it — even if they don’t show up? Who the help thought that one up? Who ever thought the handicapped would carry such political clout? Did they have secrete meetings like the KKK to get it? Or the AA? Or the NRA? Or, the Republicans? I’d like to meet their PAC. Tell me – it was the AARP that got that legislation passed, wasn’t it? Yea it was the AARP. Er… Wasn’t it? Tell me you bastards.
Now if you really are disabled – then this doesn’t apply to you. I feel very blessed and thankful every day because I’m vertical, and I personally feel you should get better parking as you have enough challenges during the day. I don’t necessarily feel that every retail store, restaurant, park, museum, health club, hotel, office building, and shopping center in America should save parking spaces right in front specifically reserved for you, just “in case” you feel like coming out. Sorry I don’t really have a better answer, but I don’t think this is the solution either.
Just so I don’t get people trying to run me over with their wheelchairs, here’s something I’d like to give to the physically challenged: let’s pass a law that you don’t have to put money in any parking meter. So, now you can’t say I’m against the handicapped, can you?
Hey, that was easy. It’s fun being nice. Hey, I don’t think handicapped people should pay any taxes either. And, and maybe they can eat free in all the restaurants? And it’s OK for them to drive drunk. OK, maybe not. Driving drunk is an art form that needs to be developed over years of practice, and best left to us professionals. So, that’s a bit over the edge, isn’t it. OK, no drunk driving for you guys.
So, enough digressing about the aging, the handicapped and all those on their cell phones in their SUVs, all of whom can take you out while driving their vans and SUVs, and you’ll never see it coming and they never give you a stinking chance. Since this is a sales and marketing column, let’s talk about sales. I’m thinking about selling my new motorcycle. Evidently when I asked my wife if she minded if I bought a motorcycle and she said, “Do whatever the fuck you want!” it didn’t actually mean that.
I’ll talk more about sales and marketing next column. Provided of course my publisher isn’t old and she doesn’t take offense at…
Jeff Dobkin is a funny speaker about sales, motivation, marketing and direct marketing. He’s equally at home writing direct-sales letters as he is technical business papers or his own brand of marketing plans for clients. Jeff is a seasoned writer and designer of direct mail, direct selling long-copy ads, brochures and collateral, annual reports, direct-selling TV scripts and stuff like dat dere. Heck, he just does it all. Including tough marketing audits – what are you missing in your marketing? And sales letters… did I mention he’s really good at writing sales letters. Yea, guess I did. I’ve written, I mean he has written 5 books on marketing and 2 on humor, and leaves you to figure out which is which. Visit his business site JeffreyDobkin.com for some of his business writing and to view samples of his work. 610-642-1000 rings on his desk. Go on — call him around lunchtime, see if his mouth is full…